Theories, Methods and Research 

THEORIES, METHODS AND RESEARCH

For hundreds of years the Church in Europe provided the spiritual and soul care. Out of this the humanistic tradition came forward. Now we have psychotherapists with a humanistic value system who serve both Christians and non-Christians. We have noted how there is among traditional Church people a hesitancy to go to a humanistic therapist. This school attempts to reach those people within their basic Christian culture value system, at the same time adhering to the latest scientific thinking.


The overall approach of the school is Integrative Psychotherapy from a Christian perspective. This approach “draws on the achievements of various psychotherapeutic schools of thought as well as employs its own distinct methods in order to bring a person back to psychophysical health and assist in personal growth”  
http://www.spch.pl/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/info2012-ACP-English.pdf  p.7

The integration concerns emotional, cognitive, volitional, behavioral, relational, biological, physiological, and religious dimensions, and it builds on scientific work and experience of various psychotherapeutic schools and Christian associations, e.g. EMCAPP http://www.emcapp.eu/  and ACC Europe,  http://www.acc-eu.org/
http://www.spch.pl/?page_id=22

Theories first and second years are mainly from the Psychodynamic Theories and Motivational Interviewing, Third and Fourth years are Behavioral and Cognitive Theories followed by Narrative and Systemic theories, Trouble Shooting and at last integration of all theories. 

Research on the effectiveness of Christian Psychotherapy among other things shows that integrated religious therapy is as effective as traditional psychotherapy, and that applying interventions consistent with the client’s own world-view and religious values can improve the therapeutic alliance and contribute to improvement in clients’ presenting problems. It is also found that religiousness does not cause negative health consequences, on the contrary, it improves the fullness of a person, see  http://www.spch.pl/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/info2012-ACP-English.pdf , p.14. 

Researchers have also demonstrated that survivors of sexual abuse frequently use spirituality as an important coping resource, and that spirituality may prove helpful in the recovery process, see Nichole, A., Murray-Swank, N.A. I Pargament, K.I. (2005): God, where are you? Evaluating a spiritually-integrated intervention for sexual abuse. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 8 (3), 191-203). http://www.emcapp.eu/archives/457

In the research Nichole A. Murray-Swank: “Navigating the storm: Helping Clients in the Midst of Spiritual Struggles” (murray-swank_final_2011) it is stated and found that “Psychotherapists who work with spiritual struggles in therapy must attend to ethical issues and cultural competence. This requires a respect for diverse beliefs, ongoing therapist self-awareness, and a client-centered approach in working with value differences in addressing spiritual struggles in the therapy process”. 

The approach of the school is close to other integrative and holistic approaches. It is important to mention that the school respects a person’s freedom and dignity. The aim is to bring therapeutic effects, that is to relieve dysfunction, not to try to convert clients to Christianity – which in the latter case also would be an unethical conduct. Our aim is psychotherapy. The Christian approach is an added value and does not replace psychological knowledge. 


The characteristics for our therapeutic school are the following: 

 

  1. We assume the influence of past experiences but not determinism.
  2. We acknowledge the existence of free will understood as the area where someone wants or does not want something and makes decisions.
  3. We acknowledge the existence of objective truth understood as internal and external facts and Biblical truths.
  4. Therapists need to distinguish between psychological, spiritual and pseudo-spiritual experiences (http://www.spch.pl/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/info2012-ACP-English.pdf   p.24).


The school acknowledges that there are different emphases within the various Christian counseling traditions, and recognizes that some Christian approaches are more at ease than others in drawing on insights from secular theory and practice. 

An example of our coherent method can be seen in the integrative model by McMinn and M.C. and Campbell C. D. (2007): Integrative Psychotherapy. Toward a Comprehensive Christian Approach. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity. Theoretical as well as theological dimensions are integrated. 

The theoretical dimension consists of main trends in contemporary psychotherapy and scientific work – like psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, systemic, humanistic, existential, narrative, and neurobiological approaches. 

The theological dimension is especially expressed through the concept of Powerful Peace (PP) in abuse counseling. PP is introduced in theory and practice and is at the same time both an attitude and a method. It is based neurobiological and uses the approach of attachment theories and narrative therapy. It is possible to use in any form of psychotherapy. The aim of it is to deepen a person’s relationship with the person of God. It is important for the therapist to be prepared and trained to offer and integrate the spiritual dimension in the help they provide. For more information see: T.J. van der Weele M.A (1995): From Shame to Peace, Importantia Publishing, Dordrecht, Netherlands (Amazon.com).

This approach can be identified as a cultural sensitive approach. It is very much linked to the concept of therapy as a dance, rather than as confrontation (William R. Miller &Stephan Rollnick: Motivational Interviewing, 2nd Edition 2002, Guilford Press). 

Survivors of serious trauma are often locked in a world of their own. In order to provide adequate help, it is necessary for ’safe’ persons to enter into that world. The biblical concepts of ’grace and peace’ have proven to be important keys in achieving this goal. The encounter with ’Powerful Peace of God’, enables the survivor to face the pain, leave the past and look with hope towards the future. To help clients to become peaceful is seen as a necessary prerequisite for the possibility to change, based on Christian principles. 

Powerful Peace is taught throughout all the years and will become more integrated as the students learn how to understand and use the different psychological theories they will learn. 

A recent research on Blessing is done by Christien den Draak, University of Utrecht, Netherlands: http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/student-theses/2010-0924-200342/stageverslag%20compleet.doc 

A research on the effectiveness of Blessing in counseling is done on the request of the Foundation Zegenend Helpen (Helping through Blessing) (zegenendhelpen.nl) by A. Kroon and D.D. Brouwer-Overduin, as a Theological Paper for their B.A in Relgion at the Christelijke Hogeschool in Ede, Netherlands. 

The foundation gives a valuable contribution with ‘blessing’ and does this from a right heart-attitude: they only want to point to the fact that the way in which in the Bible one blesses is in any case a safe approach. 

Translation of parts of this recent research project:

 Pg. 23: Wij hebben gekozen voor een heterogene groep omdat het een breder beeld geeft over de stichting als we naar de ervaringen van mannen én vrouwen vragen, van begin twintigers tot mensen achter in de zeventig en van mensen die de PKN bezoeken tot mensen die naar een pinkstergemeente gaan. Natuurlijk is er ook een bepaalde mate van homogeniteit nodig, er moeten tussen al die verschillende mensen wel bepaalde overeenkomsten zijn. In ons onderzoek zijn alleen mensen gevraagd die een traject met de netwerker hebben afgerond en het laatste gesprek moet minimaal zes weken geleden zijn. 

We choose a group of non-homogeneous respondents in order to give a wider view of the experiences of men and women, in the age of twenties until past seventy, people from the Protestant Church of the Netherlands to the Pentecostals. In order to have some homogeneousness we choose only people who finished a period of counseling with people trained by the Foundation and who had at least longer than 6 weeks the last session.

Conclusie:

Pg. 37 De stichting doet erg waardevolle dingen met de zegen en doet dit vanuit de juiste hartsgesteldheid. Wij willen er alleen op wijzen dat de manier waarop in de Bijbel gezegend wordt in ieder geval veilig is. Veilig in de zin van niet on-Bijbels. Dat we bijvoorbeeld het zegenen van lichaamsdelen niet terugvinden in de Bijbel is geen reden om te zeggen dat dit niet mag/kan of fout is. Wel denken we dat het belangrijk is om erop te wijzen dat niet expliciet in de Bijbel genoemd wordt. 

Translation of Conclusion

The foundation gives a valuable contribution with ‘blessing’ and does this from a right heart-attitude: we only want to point to the fact that the way in which in the Bible one blesses, is in any case a safe approach. Safe in the sense of not unbiblical. The fact that we can’t find in the Bible that body parts are blessed, that this doesn’t give a reason that this would be incorrect of should be avoided.

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